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Early Childhood Education

About the Program

The B.S. in Early Childhood Education emphasizes knowledge, skills, and dispositions from prenatal/birth through grade 3. The major leads to Minnesota Early Childhood Education licensure (birth through third grade). Most of the education classes offered include a related experience in an early childhood or elementary classroom.

Since licensure to teach is a professional program, formal application for admission to the Teacher Preparation Program is required during sophomore year.  There is a minimum GPA requirement of 2.8 in entry level professional education coursework from all colleges and universities attended. Other information on requirements and applying to the Teacher Preparation Program can be found on the School of Education website. Persons with previous degrees and/or current licensure interested in adding a licensure field or endorsement may apply to SMSU and have their transcripts sent (if not from a Minnesota State school) to have a new transcript review of what courses they would still need.


Each year the School of Education awards several scholarships to students who have demonstrated excellent potential as teachers, including the Winston Gittens Diversity Scholarship in Education. Other scholarships are the Carr Properties Scholarship, Geneva Emblem Scholarship, Keigh Hubel Rural Education Scholarship, Golden Rule Scholarship, the Doug Sweetland Memorial Scholarship, and the Robert Schwerin Memorial Scholarship. Incoming students may be eligible for a number of academic and leadership scholarships through the Office of Admission. The scholarships are awarded based on a student’s past academic record including the ACT, class rank, GPA, and leadership potential.

Career Opportunities

Early Childhood Education Program graduates are prepared to provide developmentally appropriate activities for infants, toddlers, preschool, and primary grade children.  Private pre-school, child care, Head Start, Early Childhood Family Education, kindergarten, and primary grade teaching are possible career directions.  Early childhood education is an emerging field with the potential for leadership positions in higher education as well as in agencies that provide support to families and children, such as Head Start and other childcare resource and referral agencies.


Assessment of Student Performance

Assessment of teaching skills begins when applicants are reviewed for admission to the Teacher Preparation Program. Ability to work with children and/or adolescents, strong scholastic achievement, and solid communication skills are examples of characteristics that students entering teacher education must have. During the program students receive specific feedback from professors and classroom teachers. At the time of student teaching, each student receives a comprehensive assessment by the classroom teacher and the university supervisor. Mastery at the appropriate level for a beginning teacher must be demonstrated in the Ten Standards of Effective Practice. Collaborative skills and attitudes are emphasized. Candidates are also required to complete the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment). A portfolio is required in the Early Childhood Education Program.


The Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators (EMAE) is an active student organization that develops a variety of projects each year. Other leadership opportunities are also provided, such as serving as a candidate representative on the Teacher Preparation Advisory Council. Professors also encourage candidates to attend professional conferences when available. Teacher candidates participate in university-wide activities including music, theatre, marching band, student government, athletics, and much more. The Global Studies Program and other special projects provide additional opportunities for education majors.


A unique aspect of the Teacher Preparation Program at Southwest Minnesota State University is the open-space resource center. This Academic Commons serves as a workroom, resource center, classroom, and laboratory. The open-concept facility houses reading materials, technology stations, a media lab, and numerous places in which education students learn in a comfortable, personal, and friendly atmosphere. Students have wireless access to e-mail and the Internet via SMSU and PC labs, as well as through the library’s on-line computer system.

Clubs & Organizations

  • Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators (EMAE)
  • American Sign Language Club

Last Modified: 5/30/23 3:45 PM | Website Feedback